Point/Counterpoint | Will Iowa football’s offense improve in 2022?
Daily Iowan Pregame Editor Austin Hanson and Assistant Sports Editor Chris Werner project how much production the Hawkeyes will get from their offense this season.
August 23, 2022
I think the Hawkeyes’ offense will improve this season because I said so. After last season, the only way to go is up, right?
I know wide receivers Charlie Jones and Tyrone Tracy both transferred to Purdue during the offseason, but that means more targets will be available for sophomore wideouts Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce.
The pair showed promise during their true freshman campaigns, racking up a combined 43 catches for 561 yards. As sophomores, they could be even more dangerous.
Nico Ragaini will also be back for a fifth year at Iowa. The 6-foot, 196-pound wide receiver has hauled in 91 passes for 968 yards and three touchdowns during his time in the Black and Gold.
Tight end Sam LaPorta is returning to Iowa City for his fourth collegiate season. He led the Hawkeyes in total receiving yards and touchdowns in 2021, grabbing 53 balls for 670 yards and three touchdowns.
LaPorta had 22 more catches than any other player on the Hawkeyes’ roster last year. He also piled up 300 more yards of offense than any other Iowa pass-catcher.
As for quarterback Spencer Petras, I really don’t know what to say. I guess a week with Peyton and Eli Manning can’t hurt.
Regarding the running game and offensive line, I like the backs. I’m not so sure about the line.
Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams, who will most likely split carries this season, were pleasant surprises in the Hawkeyes’ 24-17 Citrus Bowl loss to Kentucky in January. With Tyler Goodson out to prepare for the NFL Draft, Leshon totaled 10 carries for 42 yards and Gavin had 16 rushes for 98 yards.
The Hawkeyes’ offensive line worries me — no more Tyler Linderbaum, no more Kyler Schott. Even with Linderbaum and Schott’s veteran leadership, Iowa ranked second-to-last in the Big Ten Conference in sacks allowed. The Hawkeyes were 11th in rush yards per game and yards per rushing attempt.
If you’re losing two starters on an already bad offensive line, you’re going to have trouble blocking for runners and protecting passers.
If Iowa’s O-line can get better, however, I think the Hawkeyes have the requisite weapons to improve an offense that ranked 121st in the nation a year ago.
It pains me to say this, but I don’t think Iowa football’s offense is going to be any better in 2022 than it was in 2021.
I get no joy out of watching 11 or more players struggle to move the ball and score points possession after possession. Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz’s disappointment doesn’t put a smile on my face.
I hate to write off an entire unit before the Hawkeyes have even played their first game, but I don’t see many reasons to be optimistic.
I’ve watched a lot of football games, and I believe one fact holds true at every level: personnel always supersedes game plan and scheme. Bottom line, Iowa’s offensive output will be about the same this year as it was last season — no matter how many tweaks the Hawkeyes make.
Iowa is returning three of its top five wide receivers, its No. 1 quarterback, and its top two tight ends. The Hawkeyes also lost their top running back, Tyler Goodson, the best offensive lineman in the country, center Tyler Linderbaum, and starting guard Kyler Schott.
With the group I just mentioned, Iowa ranked 121st in the nation in total offense. For those keeping score at home, there are only 130 teams in the FBS. The Hawkeyes’ passing attack was 109th in the country.
On top of that, the Hawkeyes were second-to-last in the Big Ten Conference in sacks allowed. Iowa was also 11th in the league in yards per run and rushing yards per game.
Given the number of returning players the Hawkeyes have, I’d say we got a large enough sample last year to accurately predict what Iowa will do on offense this season.
With no major personnel upgrades or coaching staff changes, there’s no way for me to claim the Hawkeyes’ offense will make major strides in 2022.
Prove me wrong, Hawkeyes. I’ll tip my cap if you do.